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Premium Rush Review
By Darrin Jones / August 24

Ingredients: If you liked the adrenaline rush of Crank, the high-speed action of Fast and the Furious, and a little sprinkling of the bike-riding shenanigans of Rad, then you will like this movie.

I went into Premium Rush expecting an okay movie, what I got was a good movie; maybe even a great movie. Wilee (as played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a Manhattan bike messenger who’s last delivery for the day takes an unexpected detour when a dirty cop, Bobby Monday (Michael Shannon), chases him down trying to pilfer the prized package. Aided by his fellow bike messenger and girlfriend, Vanessa (Dania Ramirez), Wilee has to use all his street smarts and mad cycling “skillz” to outwit the corrupt copper. Wilee and crew have to decipher the importance of the mysterious parcel and deliver it to the right hands before its too late. 

Joseph Gordon-Levitt is great in this role and, as simple as the movie sounds, it’s given some great visual complexity. The Wilee character gets these out-of-body moments -- kind of like his bike-messenger-senses are tingling. The plot is told in a non-linear fashion and, thanks the wonders of modern technically, jumps around from character to character through phone calls and map apps. But the best bits are the conflicts between Wilee and Officer Monday.

Michael Shannon seems to have taken a page right out of Looney Toons with his portrayal of the one-note villain, Bobby Monday. (Really the whole movie is a parody of the old ‘Road Runner’ cartoons. Get it? That’s why the character is named “Wile E.”) But it really works. Monday’s comical failures are quickly brushed aside when he flips his scary-switch and reminds you that he is a credible threat.

I think Premium Rush is actually a return to form for Gordon-Levitt; while he’s hit it big recently in the mainstream, this movie is very much like his earlier underground successes 500 Days of Summer and Brick. It’s a film that focuses more on how to tell a good story in an original way. The cinematography is great, the effects are great and, as usual, Joseph is great.

While Premium Rush is essentially an hour-and-half bike chase, the camera work is always right in the action; weaving through cars and jumping over stuff then jumping over MORE stuff. But, because it’s a good movie, the frame rate stays pretty steady and centered -- what this means is that there’s no stinking shaky-cam or blur effects giving people motion sickness. The downside is there are a few stretches of bike-ridding padding that might only appeal to bicycle fanatics or people with very specific fetishes but when the film jumps back on track it does it expertly.

Even though Premium Rush is stuffed with biking scenes, the film has so much more to offer. It has genuine humor, including a particularly funny running gag, and when the scenes get intense they get really intense. Mix in some quirky characters and a clever story, what’s not like?

In the end, Premium Rush is a nice little summer flick that really highlights Joseph’s dedication to his craft. As physically demanding as action movies usually are, the fact that he’s peddling a bike as hard as possible for a sustained time is just phenomenally impressive. (And you even get to see the aftermath of one of his bike-wrecks while filming. No joke, it’s in the credits, I almost missed it myself.) If you’re in the mood for a fun, fast movie then I’d strongly recommend Premium Rush.  


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